• Discussing when corporate culture resists change and understanding what motivates that conservatism
  • Offering ways to secure management and workforce buy-in to new projects, processes, and policies
  • Demonstrating examples of soft skills and leadership tools that support your team during transition periods
  • How does the role of a leader change as a new project or program matures?

Al Baroudi, Vice President Food Safety & Quality Assurance, The Cheesecake Factory

Dr. Ata (Al) Baroudi joined The Cheesecake Factory in 2008 with broad experience in the food industry. He is an agricultural engineer with a MS degree in Food Science and Technology / Microbiology from UC-Davis. He received his Ph.D. in Food Processing and Technology / Regulatory Affairs from Ohio State University. He served as the head of QA and Food Safety (Snacks and Dairy) for Borden Foods Company before becoming Vice President, Corporate QA/Food Safety and Regulatory/ Environmental Affairs for Vons/Safeway Supermarkets. Dr. Baroudi then served as Vice President of QA and Technical Services, Harry & David Corporation, before becoming the Chief Scientific, Health and Regulatory Affairs Officer at Yum! Brands. He later founded and served as President of the Food Safety Institute, International (FSI).

Marie Tanner, Chief Food Safety and QHSE Officer – Global, Kerry Ingredients

Marie joined Kerry in 2010, and currently leads the Global Food Safety & QHSE function, a role she was appointed to in 2013. During her career at Kerry, Marie has held executive compliance roles and served as the Vice President for QHSE for the Americas region. Prior to joining Kerry, Marie held various quality leadership roles for PepsiCo and Godiva (Ulker). Marie holds an M.S. in Food Science from Rutgers University and is currently on the board of SSAFE, a non-profit organisation that promotes the continuous improvement and global acceptance of internationally recognized food protection systems and standards. In the past, she served on the board of directors for the International Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT).


Don Jones, VP Quality & Food Safety, Atkins Nutritionals

Don Jones is responsible for Quality, Food Safety and Regulatory compliance for Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. based in Denver, Colorado. Responsibilities include oversight of quality and food safety systems at co-manufacturers, regulatory/labeling, consumer affairs and the company call center. Joining Atkins in 2012, he previously worked with ConAgra Foods for 25 years. He has held Food Safety, Quality and R&D positions supporting both retail and food service businesses at plant and corporate levels domestically and internationally with experiences across food categories that include: raw and ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry slaughter/processing, RTE seafood, dairy, snack foods, jarred sauces/preserves, frozen, canned and dehydrated foods, aseptic and near aseptic products, edible oils/margarine, flour milling, and animal feed production facilities.

Sean Leighton, VP Food Safety & Quality, Cargill

Sean Leighton is currently Vice President of Food Safety & Quality for Cargill based in Wayzata, Minnesota. Prior to joining Cargill, Sean worked for over 13 years at The Coca-Cola Company in various roles across Quality, Food Safety and Environmental Sustainability, working in the US, Canada and Europe. Sean has a BS in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MS in Food Science from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from Emory University. Sean sits on the advisory board of many organizations including IAFP’s Journal of Food Protection, The Center for Food Safety (UGA), GMA’s Science & Education Foundation and the Food Fraud Think Tank (MSU). In his spare time, Sean enjoys running, lifting weights, and spending time with his wife and two children.

Gary Swanson, SVP Global Quality, Herbalife

Gary Swanson is responsible for the corporate and regional Quality Assurance teams, as well as the Quality Control operations at Herbalife Innovation and Manufacturing facilities in Lake Forest, CA; Winston-Salem, NC; and Suzhou, China. Gary also has responsibility for the Quality Center of Excellence in the United States and Changsha, China. With over 30 years’ experience in nutritional and pharmaceutical quality and operations roles, Gary has been with Herbalife since 2009. Gary began his career as a chemist for a Canadian manufacturer of nutritional and pharmaceutical soft gels and eventually oversaw worldwide operations for Banner Pharmacaps. Gary has focused a substantial part of his career on designing new facilities and helping various companies to improve product and process quality.